Hot! The “Did Someone Order a Parachute?” Dress

The Facts

Fabric: 2 cotton sheets from Goodwill $3.98. Purple cotton sheeting remnants from making daughter’s curtains.
Pattern: Butterick 5637
Year: Contemporary
Notions: 22″ zip $1.99
Time to complete: 18 hours
First worn: 25th January 2012
Wear again? Definitely, but I might make a smaller one too

Total price: $5.97 (£3.80)

The challenge: “Down Under: This week, we’re mixing it up, seasonally, and sewing a creation appropriate for the totally opposite season”.

I feel like a total fraud. I live in Phoenix, Arizona. No, that’s not why I feel a fraud. It’s because we don’t really have seasons. We have “Hot” and “So hot you want to die”. We definitely don’t have a “Winter”. I envy all the pretty girls in their pretty rainbow tights (pantyhose) and their boots and their layers. That used to be me :( It’s been two years and a bit now since I moved from Shropshire, UK and about this time of year I was stocking up on coal and candles for the frequent power cuts and snowing ins we’d get in February. I love my jumpers, hats and gloves.

Here, now, in Phoenix it’s sunny and 72F/22C…..and yes, this is technically Winter.

Hence why I feel like such a fraud. Yes, I’ve made myself a maxi dress to muck about in when we have our real summer and the temperatures stay above 110F/43C for about 2-3 months….but I’ve seen the rest of you Sew Weekly contributors, taking your pics out in REAL winters, freezing your bits off in your sundresses and did I not spy a certain bikini in the snow…..?

So yes I’ve made myself a dress for technically my opposite season, but please don’t throw stuff at me and call me a cheat because I have the sun out in my photos and I don’t look like my extremities are going blue. Because they weren’t.

But I put a silly hat on in solidarity for all those of you who actually braved real, authentic winter…it made my head hot… you forgive me? It also made me feel like a spy….

You can’t see me now for my cunning disguise can you?

Enough silliness….down to the down under “Did Someone Order a Parachute?” dress…. I made it in an XXL because I am an XXL and the measurements on the packet told me to – but it is HUGE! And this is after I took the bodice in and added some rather large darts. But I still quite like it. At one point I thought I was going to resemble Homer Simpson when he decides to gain a lot of weight to gain disability allowance and work from home, you know the episode where he starts wearing the big flowery muumuu….but it actually turned out a little more stylish than that (though Homer is a style guru).

And the gathering…..oh, the gathering. And I’m not even talking about the exciting type of Gathering that summons the Immortals to battle to the death for the Quickening….hands up all the geeks. Nope, This pattern has big and bold on it’s front “Quick and Easy”…..well, it wasn’t too difficult, although I think a total beginner might have a little difficulty getting their head around the neckline gathering….but it wasn’t “Quick”. It seemed to take an eternity rather than a few days pulling all those stitches and trying to make the ruffles sort of even on the two rufflely sections.

But as I say, I like it. And though I might make another one in the next size down…..this big one is the first garment I’ve made this year that I kept on wearing after taking the photos and suspect I will wear quite a bit during the ‘real’ Summer, especially as it might keep me fit, because all I want to do in it is swirl and jump…



Tempest Devyne is a Brit who loves rain. She was therefore exiled to the deserts of Arizona. She started tentatively sewing about 3 years ago to make her own burlesque costumes. She'd now like to make pretty clothes for herself that don't rely on velcro and poppers to stay on. She's self-taught with help from the internet and lots of books from the library.


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  1. Don’t feel bad its not real winter here either. Some years it is but not this year. I just hope we don’t hit your summer temps. I’m so hot I want to crawl into the fridge well before 110.

  2. That is a lot of gathering! I made a tiered dress for my five-year-old recently and discovered I don’t enjoy gathering either. I love that Homer is a style icon and I love your maxi.

  3. Hahaha so cute! And I love your Highlander shout out. Geek hand totally raised. Love it!

  4. You have such great wit~! Love it! (hand raised) I think we should give you a pass on the ‘not really winter’ thing. It’s 57-60 F in Nashville TN today. Oh yea…..

  5. your dress is really cute. i live in Brisbane, Australia and our average “winter” temp is 20c or about 70F so you could wear that dress most of the year round here :)

  6. I believe I was one of the bikinis in the snow, but I promise I’m not mad at you for the warm weather. I may rub it in during the summer when it’s sunny for 23 hours here in Alaska and the temperatures stay around 75F all the time.

    Cute dress! Gathers can be the death of me, too. I now own both a gathering and ruffler foot, but haven’t tried either of them yet.

  7. That looks ideal for summer! Got to admit though, It’s nice to find out that your ‘correct size’ is too big. I think I need a maxi-dress.

  8. Love reading about your experience with this one. Your pics are so funny!

  9. Totally cracked up reading this post. Yeah, sometimes I feel bad that I’ve only ever lived in California and the temps here are usually between 50-75 degrees. The nice thing about SoCal is that sometimes it does get cold enough that you can bundle up in layers and boots, but not actually so cold that you *need* those layers. Anyway, great summer dress!

  10. I love it (especially the hat!), but it must have taken meters and meters of fabric for all those gathered tiers! I have a pattern for a similar maxi skirt and I think it took about 5 meters.

    I don’t love our freezing winter, but I find the summer even harder: I absolutely hate having to get dressed up for work and sweating like a pig before I even leave the house, because believe it or not, Montreal weather ranges from -40C (-40F) in the winter to +40C (104F) in the summer. Not every day like Phoenix, mind you, but when you don’t have AC, it seems like forever.

    • Oh, sorry!!…I think that came out wrong: it must have taken meters and meters because all tiered maxi dresses do, not because of the size you made. *head smack*

      That’s a beautiful printed sheet – I’m going to have to keep my eyes open for more when I’m thrift shopping.